BookingLive raises £500,000 investment

The Summit Group and Creative England fund development of new freemium product

We will be radically expanding our customer base beyond enterprise-sized firms later this year thanks to £500,000 of funding raised to launch its new freemium version.

The funding has been secured from two sources: venture capital firm The Summit Group, who are investing £300,000, and non-profit investors Creative England, who have provided the remaining £200,000.

vinnie morgan bookinglive

Our founder and CEO, Vinnie Morgan, has long had ambitions to offer a free version of our product that would be accessible to any organisation of any size: from SMEs to local voluntary organisations. Thanks to the new funding, this new product will be released soon, possibly as early as Q3 of 2017.

Like other free booking products, our freemium product will collect a commission from the customer booking on all bookings sold. Although the pricing model is still being finalised, we have committed to charging lower prices than other services currently on the market.

Although we are entering a market with several established players, we are confident we can quickly establish itself as an attractive option for organisers. As Vinnie explained to the media recently:

“BookingLive is not a startup. We’re an established, profitable company with a growing customer base among large organisations with complex needs. We will be using that expertise to create the best booking software option for the freemium section of the market.”

“For several years we have collected enormous amounts of data on how organisers and customers use booking software. This is allowing us to design a freemium version that will be exactly right for SMEs and smaller groups. The freemium product will not be exactly the same as the enterprise product, but it will not simply be a stripped down version either. It will be a tailored fit with a huge focus on an intuitive mobile-first and an easy-to-use administration system.”

Although we are excited about growing our customer base, BookingLive will continue to provide its current cloud-based booking software product to larger companies and public sector organisations alongside the new freemium product. We remain committed to growing our successful enterprise-level business through innovation and great service, as well as always developing that product further.

 

If you would like to receive updates on our new products features and launch, then stay tuned!

How to Start a Tour Operator Business

Though the popularity of many many industries wax and wane, tour operators remain remarkably resistant – after all, people are always going to want to see the sights. Over the years tours have really developed as to where you are able to go and what you are able to do on them.

Tour operators exist all over the world, either directly running tours themselves or acting as a central agency by which anyone can book a selection of tours, provided by outside firms. They can also be highly profitable endeavours, regardless of which form they take, should they be run properly.

If you’re planning on launching a tour operator business your responsibilities are clear; provide your customers with safe and unforgettable experiences at prices which remain competitive with the rest of the market.

Getting your tour operator business started can be a struggle though, especially if it’s not an area you’re familiar with. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to share with you the vital steps you should take if you want a successful tour operator business.

tour operator booking system

Invest time and money finding the right local suppliers

As a tour operator, you are effectively a middleman connecting and packaging together local service suppliers like coach companies, hotels, restaurants, guides, museums and more, ready for your customers.

It’s your task to find exceptional local suppliers for your tours, negotiate prices and ensure that the smooth running of these services together, creating a seamless tour experience for your clients. Without them, you’ll never be able to offer a successful experience, so landing the right ones is key.

In this regard, social media platforms can be a useful tool for finding out more about a potential supplier. Try giving your supplier a search on Facebook to see if they’re receiving regular negative or positive feedback about their service. It’s always worth speaking to your supplier’s face to face too, in order to build a strong personal relationship – doing so helps you repair your relationship should issues occur down the line.

Put the safety of your customers first

Tour operators have a significant responsibility for the health and safety of their guests, one that should never be taken anything less than seriously. Companies like Argent and SGS offer tour operators health and safety audits.

One helpful tip we would recommend is joining the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), as members are offered discounts on health and safety audits, amongst other helpful advice.

Recruit the besttour operator booking system

Successful tour operators live and die by their staff. They help keep the wheels turning behind the scenes, organise sometimes chaotic groups and deal with countless hiccups over the course of each tour. To handle that with grace is a real skill, and not a common one.

Nevertheless, it’s what you need to find. Attracting the best people isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Sell your vision and set incredibly high standards, you should only be hiring tour managers who are committed to your ideals and the ideals of your business.

Though there are no ‘required’ qualifications for tour managers, courses are available from the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality and the Institute of Travel and Tourism, which are worth keeping an eye out for on CVs when recruiting new team members.

Build yourself for the online age

Tour operating is a very old business, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to change. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Today’s successful tour operators (old and new) make superb use of the internet, using it for promotion, customer outreach and sales; so, don’t get left behind. It starts, of course, with a social media presence and website, where you can share your latest information and promotional materials, but it should go much further than that.

Partnering with online travel agents can lead to huge benefits, and maintaining a blog on your website can boost your SEO, helping to drive more potential customers to your website. Whilst there, you should implement a tour operator booking platform, which will allow your customers to see live availability and prices, as well as book and pay for their tours at any time, on any device.

There are other benefits to a tour operator booking system, like automatic reminder emails for customers, letting them know their tour is coming up and where they should be, making a booking platform all but mandatory for any modern tour company.

A Tour Operator Booking System is something that many businesses now have – so it’s important that you keep up with the trend and your competitors.

 

To find out more about BookingLives Tour Operator Booking System, sign up to our free demo!

Open Source Booking System vs. BookingLive

There can be no debate that, if your business takes bookings and has an online presence, you need an online booking system. These platforms enable your business to take advantage of the sea change in online buying habits and reach customers that simply wouldn’t discover your business otherwise.

Quite simply, they’re an invaluable part of any modern business strategy but deciding you need one is the easy part. The harder part? Well, that would be deciding which one is right for you.

As with any product though, you’ll find that there are a good number of options available to you, each competing for your attention. Ultimately though, your choices could boil down to two options – open source reservation systems or BookingLive.

Each system boasts their own advantages, but which is the one your business should opt for? Join us as we take a look at what each platform has to offer.

 

Open Source Booking System Advantages & Disadvantages

At their most basic, all booking systems will allow businesses with an online presence to take and manage bookings through their website, helping to relieve pressure on phone lines, customer support staff and boost sales.

Open source booking systems, however, have the added benefit of absolute flexibility. Open source booking systems are free of charge and can be extremely flexible as they are delivered as code which you can then re-write or add to as you need. Obviously, though this assumes a fairly high level of programming knowledge in potentially multiple languages i.e. PHP, Javascript, HTML.

That means you can download an open source booking system and begin to work on it, so that it suits your specific requirements. The nature of open source software means that it’s often been developed by more than one person, and may be liable to problems in ways you can’t immediately predict.

Indeed, because the software isn’t owned by anybody and licensed to you, it requires you to host it on your own dedicated server. That means that unlike other online booking and reservation platforms, you’ll be tasked with maintaining the uptime on your booking platform, as well as troubleshooting any issues that arise.

Whilst this is the kind of work that a business with a dedicated IT department can look after, for businesses which don’t operate their own servers or have IT staff to hand, this can be a costly and time-consuming practice – one which undermines the free nature of open source booking systems.

Clearly then, open source booking platforms do have their advantages, but they’re hamstrung by the fact that any and all management falls on you, a fact that’s far from ideal for most businesses. If you’re not very tech-savvy outsource someone to set up your open source booking system and problems occur you may not know how to fix it.

BookingLive Advantages & Disadvantages

BookingLive, much like an open source reservation system, lets your business take bookings through your website, offering all of the advantages that any other online booking platform would offer.

typing on laptop

Specifically, in regards to an open source booking system, BookingLive boasts incredible support. BookingLive customers receive online support regarding issues they may have with their booking system. Whether that’s a question about functionality or an issue with compatibility, you’ll receive prompt and professional help. This is the key feature which was a missing from the open source booking system.

That begins with your very first steps with BookingLive. A member of our team works with you to set up and implement BookingLive on your website and even show you around the system. Once it’s all set up you should be ready to get back to doing what you do best – running your business.

BookingLive also greatly benefits from the years of working alongside a huge variety of businesses we’ve enjoyed. That experience has meant that over the years, we’ve been able to craft an online reservation system that suits every business, with added benefits like reporting systems, a customer MyAccount, vouchers/promotions and more.

Oh, and if it doesn’t suit your business out of the box? Our range of integrations allows you to expand the capabilities of your BookingLive system, all even without you touching a line of code. It truly is the most comprehensive booking platform around!

 

If you are interested in finding out more about BookingLive then sign up for our free demo where we will walk you through our software.

35 Advantages of a booking system with BookingLive

35 advantages of booking live online booking system

We understand that running a business or department of a business can be stressful. Sometimes you would have had a system that’s been in place for years, and maybe it’s just been ticking along nicely – but there is always more that could be done. Our online booking system has been recognised to transform how businesses take their bookings.

In fact, this kind of thinking is so entrenched, the most common question we’re asked is, what the advantages of online reservation systems are. If you’re still unsure of whether an online booking system is suitable for your activity centre, events or room hire business, you’re not alone.

In this guide, we’re going to share with you 35 advantages of using BookingLive as your online booking system, designed to help you to make your decision easier.

Let’s dig in!

1.Capture full or part payments (deposits) in advance with secure payment gateways like PayPal, WorldPay, SagePay and many more.

2. Reduce overheads by redirecting staff hours away from handling bookings and towards other tasks.

3. A user-friendly experience for both customer and business ensures a simple process every time.

4. Unlike telephone or email based booking systems, online booking platforms like BookingLive enable round the clock, 24/7 bookings – boosting orders and simplifying the booking procedure.

5. Designed for and alongside a huge variety of industries. From activity centres to the Public Sector.

6. Gives your customers the ability to book online and from any device, with a fully responsive design.

7. You are able to see real-time bookings/orders that have been placed through your booking system.

8. From being able to track the amount of bookings placed to have access to instant, in-system, reports.

9. Enjoy a fully managed booking solution with our dedicated support team.

10. Available for multi-site/multi-location centres, offering greater scalability and competing alternatives.

11. Built in support for packages, group bookings and upselling, generating greater revenue.

12. Take bookings for activities, courses and accommodation.

13. Track your daily, weekly, monthly or yearly progress with measurable results.

14. Manage your staff by assigning them to certain bookings.

15. Keep customers engaged during the booking process with our automatic email and text system, which not only sends a receipt to their email address, but also checks up on them after a pre-determined period and can even remind a customer if their booking is approaching.

16. You will have the option to upsell items when your customers are placing a booking through your booking system.

17. No more double bookings with a live availability checker.

18. No hardware required – everything is hosted on our servers.

19. A huge suite of integrations mean that you can expand the capability of BookingLive in a number of ways.

20. Utilise email marketing to reach your clients, boost sales and gain valuable feedback.

21. The ability to have more than one admin users set up on the booking system (depending on what pricing plan you’re on)

22. Cancel bookings through the attendees MyAccount, freeing up phone lines for other customer service requests.

23. You will have instant access to your attendance of events history.

24. Generate reports on attendance, sales and more with our built-in tools.

25. Enable easy online bookings from major third-party agents like Groupon and Buy a Gift.

26. Flexible pricing plans ensure that any business, big or small, can enjoy a secure and reliable online booking platform.

27. Support for custom vouchers.

28. Build promo codes and time sensitive sales events with our built-in tools.

29. Taking payments online with ease.

30. Cut down on the amount of time your staff spend time managing, updating and dealing with booking requests via the phone.

31. Enjoy a fully managed set up process, no technical skills required.

32. Join us for a free 30-minute demo, or request an on-site demo.

33. Setup multiple currencies and languages, ideal for business with overseas operations.

34. Enable permissions to restrict user access, ensuring safety and security across your booking procedure.

35. Calendar view for bookings and list views for courses help guide customers towards days, times and events which suit all parties.

And that’s just the start! Find out more about BookingLive today and discover how your business can benefit.

 

If you have found any advantages of our real time booking system which you are interested then get in contact with us today.

Three Ways to Schedule Your Staff

 

staff meetingRunning or managing a business with an of full-time and part-time staff is, more often than not, about coordinating and scheduling your employees. It’s a thankless task and one which can eat up a great many hours in the working week as you deal individually with each member of staff regarding their hours and responsibilities.

For lots of businesses, the tried and tested method of charting staff hours and events out on pen and paper or an excel spreadsheet are still in use, but both have serious limitations that slow you down and could lead to confusion amongst your staff.

Thankfully, there are better ways to go about staff scheduling rather than just good old pen and paper

A Slack Channel

Slack has made a huge impression in the world of business over the last couple of years, and it’s easy to see why – their super fast instant messaging platform has dozens of fantastic business focussed features like channels, drag and drop sharing and instant search. They have recently included the feature to have a video call/conference call for when staff are working from home.

However, it’s also a useful tool for managing schedules within your business. By setting up a dedicated ‘schedules’ channel in your team’s slack group, you and your team can have space solely dedicated to the latest schedule information – whether you want to swap shifts or assign a member of staff to a certain location at a certain time, you can let people have updates on the go.

You can drag and drop an excel sheet in there so your staff can see what the latest hours are or simply discuss who’s doing what when, but its greatest asset is in helping members of staff find cover for their shift.

Its utility is also aided by the fact Slack is multiplatform, with applications built for Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

A Shared Google Calendar

When it comes to business tools, there’s no company quite like Google. However, whilst google cal (2)many businesses have begun to adopt Google Docs for its collaborative writing and editing tools, Google Calendars remain a somewhat underutilised tool for scheduling.

Its main advantage comes from the deep integration that Google Calendars offer with smartphones, letting your staff see their shifts from anywhere, at any time, with updates sent live to their devices.

To start a shared Google Calendar, simply start a new calendar and begin adding events as your shifts, ensuring that you include your employee’s email address as an attendee of the event. With your schedules set, invite your employees to subscribe to the calendar and sit back as your staff enjoy their latest schedule. It’s not perfect, but with so many people already using Google’s services, it’s accessible.

BookingLive’s Scheduling Software

BookingLive enables your business to take secure bookings 24/7 on any internet enabled device, but that’s
just one of its many features. Most interestingly for this conversation, BookingLive’s system allows an admin to assign staff to the events they create within the system. These staff will then be unavailable for clashing events as a result of this.

Say, for example, you run a tour guide service. Your 1PM tour is listed as an event within the system, you can then assign a member of staff to, which they can clearly see on their schedule. The system will automatically make these members of staff will be unavailable for any clashing events. That solves one of the biggest problems when it comes to scheduling – awkward clashes and double bookings, avoiding extra stress on staff and disappointment in customers.

If you are interested in finding out all of BookingLive’s features then head over to our feature page on our website!

BookingLive Version 2 Phase-out Plan

BookingLive Version 2 Timeline Plan

Is my BookingLive version too old? Is it still supported? When should I upgrade? What is the cost? Will I get new features?
These are the questions that customers on version 2 have been asking and today we will be answering them.

Timeline

We have now published the support timeline for version 2 clients that makes it easier for you to make a decision on whether you should stay on your current version or upgrade.

  • July 2017: P1 limited support
  • October 2017: Hosting only with no support
  • January 2018: V2 systems discontinued and switched off

Key benefits to upgrading:

  • Easy to use admin system
  • New product features
  • Continuous development and free upgrades (something we were unable to provide on version 2)

 

Support ends for version 2

BookingLive version 2 won’t receive security fixes from October 2017, which is in line with our long-standing release process. BookingLive 4 is due for release in 2018. If you are looking to upgrade your booking software and would like a quote, we recommend you contact us today. The best time to upgrade is always now.

Essential Software for Small Businesses

Nobody said that running a small business would be easy, but the difficulty can catch many off guard. On top of managing staff, payroll, stock and premises you’ve now got the added pressures of maintaining and competing in an increasingly tough online marketplace.

Thankfully, with the increased complications of SME businesses in 2017 has come to a raft of fantastic, low-cost, high-utility software designed to take the pain out managing a small business.

Small business software is designed to help you run your business better, cut your costs, increase productivity and simplify bookings for your clients. So, what is the business software you should be investing in for your small business?

Here are our four picks for accounting, communication, office software and booking software:

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses: Xero

If you haven’t heard of Xero before, let us give you a brief introduction: it’s the most comprehensive business accounting software available today, and yet it never feels complex or confusing. Xero manages it with style thanks to a design that fits across smartphones, tablets and computers.

Their software allows for instant bank reconciliation, so you can import your banking, credit card and PayPal transactions with ease. That’s alongside inventory, payroll, invoicing, expenses, bill and purchases management tools. Oh, and that’s just the start of this incredible small business management software.

Starting from just £10 a month and with a free 30-day trial, it’s also a tremendous value.

xero logo

 

Best Communication Software for Small Businesses: Slack

Slack has quietly taken over the world of business communication, and for good reason too. This web and app-based communication tool gives your employees the power to create specific “channels” where your team can converse on specific topics. It might be a project, a topic, a team within your team or anything else. You can even set up private channels with invited team members only, for those sensitive conversations.

You’ll also enjoy the ability to drag and drop files for your team to download and to make instant video calls to anyone on the team, helping you all stay connected – even if you are out of the office for the day! That’s without going into the countless other integrations it has. Best of all? It’s free on the basic plan, so you can discover whether it’s for you before you take the plunge.

slack logo

 

Best Online Booking System for Small Businesses: BookingLive

Managing bookings can be extremely time-consuming in a small business, especially if you’re reliant on booking. That, in turn, costs you man hours and could decrease productivity. That’s why online booking software is essential SME software, whether you’re an activity centre, tour operator or run courses.

BookingLive is our choice for the best small business booking system for a number of reasons, but none more so than its sheer flexibility. Easy to set up with live support available and designed for the modern internet with a design that fits in to match your live website. You’ll love the integrations available, top-tier security and ease by which you can use BookingLive to automate your entire booking procedure.

Customers can book from your website with a rolling monthly contract starting from just £50, you’ll be amazed at what BookingLive can do. A free demo is available so you get a chance to see what BookingLive can do for your business.

bookinglive logo

 

Best Office Software for Small Businesses: Google Drive

It might seem like something of a controversial choice given the hegemony of Microsoft’s Office software (especially now it’s launched on smartphones and tablets), but Google Docs takes our crown as the best office software for small businesses. Why?

Well, between its three components (Docs, Sheets and Slides), you’ve got three fully featured Office replacements. Docs offer all the benefits of Microsoft Word, Slides beings Google’s magic to the PowerPoint formula and Sheets is a terrific Excel clone. Put together, you’ve got the three most commonly used office applications. The real benefit of Google Drive is that you’re able to invite colleagues to view and work on a document with you at the same time, on their computer, meaning that you won’t have to keep sending your suggestions back and forth via email as you’ll be able to instantly edit the document instead!

Google Docs can open Office documents and even export them too, so you’ll enjoy full compatibility with Office users around the world. As far as small business software goes, it’s something of a no-brainer, especially given the completely free cost – all you need is a Google account.

google drive logo

Why your Public Sector Business Needs an Online Booking System

 

publi

Managing the finances of a public-sector business is a fine balancing act. Not only are the regulations strict, but budgets are almost constantly under fire as successive governments look to reduce the taxpayer burden whilst maintaining quality public sector services.

Under those circumstances, you’d be forgiven for believing that outfitting your business with an online booking platform might not be a priority at this moment. Well, we’re here to help you explore how that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, not only can online booking software like BookingLive improve the efficiency of your organisation, but it can help increase revenue, offsetting the cost of the platform itself.

To say those are the only benefits though would be to sell public sector online booking systems well short of their true worth, though. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide of just a handful of the huge reasons why you need a public sector booking system.

 

Your customers are online

It won’t come as a surprise, but the way that people discover the vital information regarding government services has changed fundamentally since the popularisation of the internet. Once the preserve of phone lines and leaflets, information about public sector services has moved online and the public is discovering that information in droves.

For example, 2015 saw over 659 million people visit local government websites – over 10 visits for every single person in the country. Those are huge numbers, but keep in mind that these numbers are only going up as more and more people gain access to the internet.

 

Your staff are tied up in customer booking management

With budgets tight and staff overloaded with work, it can be a challenge to operate successful, efficient services whilst managing bookings from citizens. By operating telephone booking systems, you’re requiring staff to take time away from their other duties to manage calls, slowing down their workflow and interrupting valuable working time.

A Public sector booking system can relieve your staff of pressures of managing a telephone booking system, letting them get on with their job free from distraction.

 

Manual admin tasks are swallowing your working hours and budget

Admin tasks are tough, boring and often expensive necessities of running any business. For public sector business that takes bookings, though, they can feel particularly frustrating.

BookingLive simplifies your admin tasks by automating a great many of them. Alongside taking bookings from customers online (either at your website or through your Facebook page), BookingLive’s public sector booking software can generate reports, manage staff timetables, send our reminder emails, take payments and issue receipts.

That kind of time-saving functionality can be a huge boon to public sector companies.

 

Many councils are already on board

BookingLive have been proudly partnering with a variety of UK councils with online booking software for a number of years now, helping to drive online booking adoption forwards in the public sector.

This has had the secondary function of raising expectation levels amongst the population, who have come to expect all councils and public service sector businesses to offer an online booking option. Take a quick look at just some of the councils we already work with!

 

Public sector businesses need to fit around the lives of those they serve

If working in the public sector is about helping to improve the lives of the people in your area, it only stands to reason that your booking service should fit around their lives too.

Traditional telephone booking requires specific operating hours, dramatically increasing the difficulty your customers face as they attempt to book. More and more, we all live complicated lives in which we might not be able to get to a telephone within office hours in order to book.

 

By using BookingLive to automate your booking process, your customers can book at any time, from any internet-enabled device, therefore enjoying the maximum ease of use available.

G-Cloud

BookingLive is G-Cloud approved suppliers in providing booking and appointment software to local and central government. So head over to our Public Sector Booking System page to find out more.

 

5 Reasons to Use an Online Booking System at Events

event booking system

When it comes to converting promising leads into paying customers, it’s crucial that businesses give their target audience what they want – and booking systems can help you do just that. From saving your staff time to upselling opportunities, booking systems are a great way of drumming up interest in your next event – but how can you use the day itself to get customers excited about future events?

In today’s post, we’re looking at why event booking systems work so well at a range of different events, and how you can incorporate this tool into your wider event marketing strategy.

Easily link with a CRM

Gathering, storing and then using customer data can be hugely beneficial for businesses operating in various sectors, and CRM software can offer a lifeline when it comes to organising this crucial data. Rather than spending huge amounts of time gathering different aspects of a client’s data, with an event booking system, everything can be done in one place – meaning you can analyse data and trends at your leisure, without having to pour valuable resource into gathering this information. However

Give the people what they wantMobile Online Booking System

With mobile searches now overtaking desktop, more and more online users are turning to their smartphones to book tickets, classes and events – and if your business offers any of the above, you can’t afford to overlook the power of event booking systems.

Whether you’re an SME attempting to generate leads at networking events so you can grow your client base or you work in the education sector and need bespoke online forms to suit your needs, a digital booking system can be designed to help just about anyone looking to take bookings online – and tweaked to meet customer demand.

Establish face-to-face relationships

From branded bollard covers that direct your customers towards an event to gathering a list of attendees’ social media handles, events allow businesses to bridge the gap between print and digital media and use this winning combination to create genuine relationships. By boosting brand awareness and liaising with customers face-to-face, you can make authentic connections and increase the likelihood of repeat custom.

Unlike bookings made over the phone, online systems give the user complete control over the booking process – meaning they’re not reliant on anyone else to go ahead with their order. At events, this allows businesses to point attendees towards their website and means they’re on hand to assist with any queries a customer may have.

Deliver instant gratification

For both you and the customer, instant gratification is one of the biggest benefits of booking online. The customer can book the service they want immediately and you’ll receive the payment, rather than having to sit through long phone booking processes and chase up late or incomplete payments.

Increase bookings on the move

One of the greatest benefits of using booking systems at events is the ability to secure bookings from any location. One booking can turn into another when you execute a successful event and encourage attendees to book onto the next one. This removes any limitations, in terms of customers only being able to process orders from certain locations or devices – giving you the best chance of generating maximum interest in your next event.
Ready to find out more about online bookings? Check out our handy beginner’s guide to online booking systems!

Childcare Vouchers to End April 2018 – Everything you Need to Know

childcare vouchers endingFor millions of parents across the country who pay for childcare, using the Government backed childcare vouchers helps them to save around a thousand pounds a year. It’s an invaluable scheme which allows parents to pay for childcare from their pre-tax salary, effectively offering tax-free childcare.

That might not sound like a lot, but too many parents struggling to in the harsh economic climate; it’s proven to be essential.

Now, in a move intended to simplify and streamline tax-free childcare for citizens, the Government have announced that applications for childcare vouchers will close in April 2018, to be replaced by the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, which is due to begin rollout in April 2017.

Understandably, that’s a worry to parents who aren’t fully aware of what the new scheme will offer them in comparison to the exciting childcare vouchers, or for BookingLive customers who aren’t sure whether to disable childcare voucher support in their system.

In this guide, we’re going to explain everything you need to know in terms of the childcare vouchers change.

 

How does the current system work?

The current childcare vouchers scheme is available for parents with children up to the age 15, and is offered through employers. The vast majority of employers offer childcare vouchers through ‘salary sacrifice’, which works thusly: you might give up £1,000 of salary, but after tax and your National Insurance contribution, it would only be £700. In return, you’d get £1,000 worth of vouchers to spend on childcare, making you £300 better off than you would be if you’d simply taken your salary.

Basic rate taxpayers can pay for up to £243 worth of childcare vouchers each month, working out at £55 per week. It’s crucial to note that this figure is per parent, so two working parents can get £468 worth of vouchers each month.

The childcare voucher scheme will close to new applicants in April 2018.

 

How will Tax-Free Childcare work?

The new Tax-Free Childcare scheme was unveiled during budget week, March 2014, and was always explicitly designed to replace the childcare voucher scheme, although the specific rollout and cut-off dates have since changed.

Tax-Free Childcare is once again intended to help parents with the cost of childcare, though it goes about it in a different way. Launching in April 2017, parents who opt in to the scheme will give eligible families an extra 20% towards their childcare costs.

Even at such a late stage, we still don’t know the exact details of how the Tax-Free Childcare system will work. However, we do know that for every 80p you put in, the state will add 20p, effectively giving you a basic-rate tax back on what you pay.

In total, you’ll be able to pay for childcare of up to £10,000 per child per year, so you could get up to £2,000 per year (or £4,000 if your child is disabled) every year.

 

How will this affect BookingLive customers?

In October 2015, BookingLive introduced a way for childcare providers like schools, nurseries and after school clubs to accept childcare vouchers as a form of payment for their customers who chose to book online.

This has been a huge success and a massive boon to our customers working in childcare sectors, but what does the move to Tax-Free Childcare mean for those booking platforms? You will still be able to accept Childcare vouchers – it just may mean that it won’t be an as popular payment method as it once was.

We’re also yet to hear how childcare credits are managed beyond that date for families with unspent credits to their name. At the moment, you can apply to your place of work to have the credits turned back into taxable income, but it’s unclear exactly what the cut-off date for these conversions will be.

Our development team are always looking to adapt the platform to fit in with current needs and expectations. We do know, however, that childcare tax credits will be in operation until April 2018, so retaining the ability to pay via these methods is highly recommended until this date.

We’ll update this article as and when new information regarding childcare vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare is announced.